DANNY LAFFERTY’s professional football CV boasts FOUR promotions but he reckons his latest with League One champions elect, Sheffield United is the ‘sweetest’ of them all.
The ex-Derry City left back joined the Blades on an initial loan deal five games into the current EFL League One season and has gone on to become an ever present in the side, scoring three times in 34 appearances.
And having clinched promotion to the SkyBet Championship after a 2-1 win away to Northampton at the weekend, he has now set his sights on securing the required four points which would secure the League One title.
“I think it would be an absolute travesty if we didn’t win the league now,” he said. “We’re nine points ahead and there’s 12 available. We’ve been the best team in the division and to be crowned champions would be the icing on the cake.
“We aimed to be promoted and we got that, and the manager wants us to reach 100 points which would be the maximum we could reach. We’re on a really good unbeaten run so hopefully we continue that on Friday with Port Vale away and then Bradford on the box on Monday, so we’ll be looking to finish it off in style.
“I’m delighted for myself, all the players and the fans and everybody at the club to finally achieve promotion.
“We can get back to the Championship next season and compete at a higher level again.”
Lafferty has been part of two Burnley sides who won promotion to the English Premiership in the 2014/15 and 2016/17 seasons and, of course, was a mainstay in the Derry City team which won the League of Ireland First Division in 2010/11.
But he takes most pleasure in helping Sheffield United return to the Championship after a six year absence having felt he’s made a real contribution to the club’s success.
“It’s quite good to have those promotions on my CV. It reads well whenever you’ve been part of four promotions in seven years.
I’ve pretty much played every game, bar one or two through injuries. I feel really a part of the team and I feel I’ve made a real contribution to it.Danny Lafferty
“This one is extra special as I feel I’ve really contributed and played my part since I joined on loan.
“I’ve pretty much played every game, bar one or two through injuries. I feel really a part of the team and I feel I’ve made a real contribution to it.
“Obviously at Burnley when we won promotion last year I didn’t contribute as much. The previous time they got promoted I played something like 10 times that season so there was a slight contribution.
“But this one with Sheffield United, it’s going from the League One to the Championship and not the Premier League, but it’s got that extra special feeling.”
Based in Bolton, Lafferty has had to make a four hour round-trip to Sheffield for training and had to make overnight stays for match days both home and away.
He’s made the sacrifices needed to resurrect his career after languishing on the sidelines at Burnley and he’s delighted it’s finally paying off.
“Every game’s been like an away game for me as I stay overnight, so I have to have a supportive family behind me. Getting up way before anyone else at the club needs to was tough but next year I’ll be moving to the Sheffield area to make things easier.”
Lafferty has signed until the end of the 2019 season and, having already had experience playing in the Championship he’s ready to work even harder next season to sustain the levels of success he’s been experiencing this year.
Just eight months ago his future was uncertain as he was set to part ways with Burnley and had drifted out of N. Ireland boss, Michael O’Neil’s plans. How things have changed for the ex-Celtic man!
“Thinking back to September or August last year when the transfer window was shutting and I was going on loan to start with, who would have thought eight months later I would be part of a team which won promotion and I’d be back in the N. Ireland squad and playing regularly.
“I still feel very fortunate in that sense. My goal was to get back playing football and working hard and I’m delighted that’s starting to pay off.”